FOUR VANS ENTER, ONE VAN LEAVES
2021 Chrysler Pacifica S Limited AWD ..............$56,090
2021 Honda Odyssey Elite .....................................$49,390
2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige .............................. $47,770
2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum Hybrid AWD .......$54,138
But the rise of two-box crossovers and SUVs led to the stigmatization of minivans as unfashionable mom-mobiles despite off-the-charts versatility and convenience. And just like that, these carefully packaged, thoughtfully designed vehicles were replaced by less practical and less adaptable three-row SUVs.
Today’s minivans go all out in terms of technology and features in an attempt to swing the pendulum back. To see which modern, luxury-leaning minivan reigns supreme, we gathered the entire segment in their fanciest trims, plus three dads (Dr. Bob Cho, chief of staff at Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena; MotorTrend head of editorial Ed Loh; and senior features editor Jonny Lieberman) and yours truly, a single 32-year-old with vast experience living with and driving such vehicles.
First up was a Chrysler Pacifica S Limited AWD with black wheels and badging. This Pacifica came loaded with Stow ’N Go second-row seats, dual rear screens, and the Stow ’N Vac onboard vacuum to keep things tidy. Its eye-watering price—$56,090—made it the most expensive of the group. (Today, the Voyager is Chrysler’s lower-priced model, but it’s simply a decontented Pacifica by another name.)
The Honda Odyssey Elite didn’t match some of the other vans’ wow features, but it’s a longtime top choice in the segment. One of its key tricks is CabinWatch, which displays a camera feed of the rear seats on the infotainment screen. At $49,390, the Odyssey included a vacuum and a rear entertainment package.
The all-new Kia Carnival replaces the Sedona and arrives specifically to challenge perceptions. Its boxy styling is mature and upscale—and, crucially, less vanlike—and in this SX Prestige spec, its interior feels more Mercedes than minivan. The standard second-row VIP recliners do a decent impression of first-class airplane seats, and its dual rear screens with Baby Shark branding (in Kids mode), a favorite with youngsters. The $47,770 price of the tip-top trim in our test gives it a serious leg up on value.
Finally, there’s the Sienna, which Toyota overhauled this year as a hybrid-only entry. It earns a 36-mpg highway EPA rating even with all-wheel drive, and the front seats flank a practical center console. Our example was a Limited model with a $54,138 price tag.
Comfort, Entertainment and More
Besides the usual apps, the Carnival’s rear-seat entertainment system feels as up-to-date as the streaming stick in your house, offering Netflix, YouTube, and Twitch options, plus wireless device mirroring for Apple and Android devices. We also like the handy power seat controls on the front passenger seat back, which make more room in a pinch. It lacks some of the clever storage solutions found on the other vans—its center console doesn’t transform or fit, say, a purse—but its plentiful cubbies and cupholders are all right where you expect them to be.
The Pacifica’s optional rear screens come with a Blu-ray player and have handy, easily accessible USB and HDMI ports. Even so, we’d skip the $2,495 package and put that money toward an in-vehicle Wi-Fi subscription and a couple of tablets. For those with the latest personal electronics, the Pacifica offers USB-C outlets, as does the Sienna.
The Honda and Toyota have just one rear screen each, potentially problematic for multi kid families, despite split-screen capabilities. The Odyssey’s has a couple of built-in games, but the Sienna’s only plays media connected via HDMI.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Pay-no-mind appliances? That's modern cars for you.
The Big Picture
ASTON MARTIN VICTOR
NOT JUST A FIRST DRIVE. THE ONLY DRIVE.
You'd best be geeked about our electric performance future
Change is the only constant in life. So said Greek philosopher Heraclitus some 2,500 years ago. Boy, was he right. Especially, it seems, vis-à-vis the car industry these days.
Trend 9.21 2022 Honda Civic Sedan
An unnecessary upgrade we’ll happily take
THE MOST EXCITING NEW CARS, TRUCKS, AND SUVS COMING IN 2021 OR LATER, ALL IN ONE PLACE
Constructing green gasoline from scratch using renewable methane
Shortly after our June “Green Issue” dropped, an enthusiast reader wrote to us to say we missed a key alternative fuel technology from Houston-based Nacero: green gasoline constructed from renewable natural gas using renewable energy.
CAN YOU REALLY DO THAT?
MOTOR MYTHBUSTERS TACKLES AUTOMOTIVE TALES YOU MAY HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Don’t call it Carroll
2022 Volkswagen GTI
They still do make ’em like they used to
2021 Acura TLX Type S
The coveted badge is back!
TV PROFIT LEMONIS SQUEEZED!
70 companies sue reality guru for robbing them blind
MONACO PRINCESS FIGHTING FOR LIFE!
Charlene rushed to hospital as $500M divorce explodes
SWAMP KING DIES AS GATOR STORMS SHED!
Loses arm in ambush during raging flood
KALEY'S CURSE STRIKES AGAIN!
Unlucky in love cutie’s marriage down in flames
HISTORY HAUNTS HARRY & MEGHAN
Duke & Duchess of Sussex doomed to become exiles Edward and Wallis
FOR HARRY & MEGHAN CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME!
DO-AS-WE-SAY, not-as-we-do hypocrites Harry and Meghan are desperate to brand themselves as a caring couple devoted to inspiring regular folks to improve their lives, but evidence keeps piling up they’re just selfish, arrogant piggies!
COURTNEY'S FACE RUINED!
Freaky Friends star in nip/tuck drama
CELINE'S COMEBACK KISSER!
Diva Dion defies Father Time for Sin City return
GEORGE PETERSON'S BACK – TO WIN THIS TIME!
Da Bull Is All Done With Third Place at the Olympia
BRAD'S LAST STAND!
His back’s to wall as Angelina wins key custody fight